Easy to follow tips to help you start and grow a small business
If you are wondering how to start and grow a business, I have some good news and bad news for you.
First, the good news is that it is possible to grow a business. I am sure you already know this. But the bad news is that it’s hard and requires a lot of work (and sometimes lots of time).
I say this not to scare you or discourage you but to tell you the truth. I am all about being real, and I think you help people more when you tell them the truth and paint a realistic picture for them. This way, they can be prepared because they know what to expect.
I have started a few businesses and failed a few times. And, if I can point to one reason for my failures, it is the fact that I was unprepared and had no idea what I was doing. Thankfully, I am a fast learner (lots of failures will do that to you), so I have learned a lot of lessons along the way.
So if you want a better start than I did, stick around and I will do my best to help you get started.
Ready to start and grow a business that makes you happy? Let’s go!
Please note that this post may contain affiliate links. You can read my full disclosure at the top of the page.
1. DON’T SKIP THE BASICS
One of the main reasons why businesses fail or don’t take off is that the business lacks a solid foundation. A business without a solid foundation will struggle to make progress. No matter how excited you are about starting a business, don’t skip the basics.
Now, I know there are lots of things and lots of steps that go into starting a business. If you are interested in what they are, you can grab a copy of my free Startup Cheat Sheet or my New Business Checklist.
Okay, let’s look at some of the basics you can’t ignore when starting a business.
1. CHOOSING AND VALIDATING YOUR BUSINESS IDEA
A good business idea is essential to the success of your business. While coming up with the right business idea can be challenging (especially if you have a lot of interests), this is a very important step and one that should not be ignored.
Additionally, while having a good business idea is fantastic, it is not the end of the process. You still need to validate the idea before you can run with it.
For those of you wondering how to identify a good business idea, let me explain what I mean.
A good business idea serves a distinct purpose. It fulfills a need (or solves a problem) for an identified group of people. Not only that, the people are looking for a solution to the problem they have, and they are willing to pay for the solution.
As you can see, there are a few things that go into finding the right business idea. That’s why it’s so important not to skip this process.
If you need more help choosing a business idea, you can sign up for my free email course “Start Your Business.”
Okay, now let’s talk about why and how to validate your business idea.
Validating a business idea is a good way to discover if there’s a need for your business. While your idea might seem like a good one, if people don’t want what you are selling or are not willing to pay for your services, your business is dead on arrival.
You will save yourself a lot of headaches if you take the time to validate your idea before you invest lots of time or money into it.
In my experience, the best and fastest way to validate a business idea is to ask for the sale. Test your idea on your target audience. If they like it, ask them if they are willing to pay for your product or service.
Getting a few people to buy from you is a good way to test your idea. If you can’t get anyone to buy into your business idea, you may need to return to the drawing board.
If you have friends or family members that belong to your target audience, you can start with them, but ask them to give you honest feedback.
2. CLEAR UNDERSTANDING OF YOUR MARKET OR NICHE
Before you start a business, it’s important to have a clear understanding of your market or niche. You will have an easier time growing your business if you understand the market.
So, what do you need to know or understand about your niche or market?
Firstly, you need to know and understand your target customers. You need to know their pain points, how they consume information, where they hang out (so you can easily reach them), their spending habits, and what motivates them.
Once you have all this information, you will know the best way to position your business, and how to best meet the needs of your potential customers.
Another thing you need to know about your niche is the competition. Who are your competitors? What do they offer? What do they do well? What’s missing in their offerings?
With this information, you can come up with your unique selling proposition and a way to differentiate yourself from the competition.
You will have more success growing your business if you have a competitive advantage. So, before you start your business, think about your potential clients or customers, how you will meet their needs, and how you will stand out from the competition.
3. HOW YOU WILL FUND YOUR BUSINESS
Don’t make the mistake of starting a business without a clear idea of how you will fund your business.
Whether you are starting an online business with low overhead or a physical business, you have to make some investments, so it’s a good idea to know how you will afford your startup costs.
Additionally, you also need a financial plan for running your business. Most businesses don’t make a profit in the first few years, so you need a plan to keep your business afloat until you start turning a profit.
Some of the most common ways people fund their business include, personal savings, gifts from family or friends, loans, or a combination of them.
It’s up to you how you choose to fund your business. What’s important is that you have a financial plan that goes beyond the startup costs.
There are lots of other important things you should know if you want to start and grow a business. You can find some of them in my free Start and Grow a Business Guide. It covers some things you won’t find in a lot of checklists.
2. HAVE A BUSINESS PLAN OR ROADMAP
While it is possible to start a business without a plan, I do not recommend it. Not having a business plan is like getting in your car and driving around with no clear destination in mind.
If your goal is to build a profitable business, you will need a plan or roadmap to help you get there.
Now, I understand the thought of writing a business plan can be daunting, but it doesn’t need to be. Your business plan can be a one-page document, to begin with. As long as you include the most important information in your plan, it doesn’t matter how long it is.
For example, you can’t talk about starting and growing a business without including how you are going to do it. For instance, what growth strategies will you employ? What do you need to focus on? How will you measure your progress? These are questions you need to ask and answer in a business plan.
Before you move forward with your plan, take some time to create a business plan. Map out your business strategies, so you will have a roadmap you can refer to whenever you feel stuck.
3. HOW TO START AND GROW A BUSINESS: DEVELOP AN ENTREPRENEURIAL MINDSET
As a business owner, you are responsible for the success and failure of your business. If that doesn’t sound scary, I don’t know what does!
When I was an employee, I tried my best to do a good job but I didn’t think or feel the success or failure of my employer depended on me. I knew I could be replaced and I wasn’t responsible for making very critical decisions. What I am trying to say is I didn’t have the kind of pressure that I have as an entrepreneur.
If you want to be a successful entrepreneur, you will need a mindset change. First, you will need to understand that you are responsible for your business. You are responsible for its successes or failures. In other words, the buck stops with you.
Once you develop an entrepreneurial mindset, the way you approach your business will change. For example, you won’t wait for someone to tell you what to do before you do it. You will be responsible for figuring things out and moving your business forward.
So, how do you develop an entrepreneurial mindset? Here are a few ways.
- You start thinking like a business owner and not an employee.
- Understand your strengths and weaknesses so you know what you need to improve.
- Create a plan for improving yourself and learning about entrepreneurship.
- Find ways to stay motivated and know where to go for inspiration.
- Keep a positive mindset.
- Improve your decision-making skills.
An entrepreneurial mindset is basically accepting total responsibility for your business and doing everything you can to succeed.
4. LEARN HOW TO BUILD EFFECTIVE SALES FUNNELS
The two skills that will help you grow your business are marketing and sales. If you can master these skills, you will find it much easier to build a profitable business.
I know I sound like a broken record, but marketing and selling are the two most important business tasks or activities. If you do these tasks consistently, you are bound to see some results. So, it’s no wonder that these are the skills you need to build effective sales funnels.
When you are just starting out, you don’t need complex sales funnels, all you need are some simple funnels to move your customers along (think of this as the customer’s journey).
So, what do you need to build a simple sales funnel? Here is a simple list for you.
- A marketing strategy to attract your potential customers.
- A free gift, lead magnet, or content upgrade to obtain their email address. This is an effective way to stay in touch with them even if they don’t buy from you initially.
- A low-cost offer (also known as a tripwire). This is a great way to get them to trust you, and a way to lead them to your core offer.
When people buy from you, it means they have gone through the funnel but it doesn’t stop there. You also need a strategy to keep them coming back. This means that you also need a customer retention strategy.
Customer retention is a great strategy for increasing sales and profit. You can scale your business faster if you know how to retain your existing customers. Though I still recommend you always have new leads entering into your sales funnels.
Of course, you will need some tools and other resources to set up a sales funnel, but that’s outside the scope of this post. What you need to know is that you will need good marketing and sales skills to grow your business.
5. FOCUS ON THE RIGHT TASKS OR ACTIVITIES
One of the best ways to start and grow a business is to focus on the right tasks and activities.
There are lots of aspiring entrepreneurs who can’t make any progress because they are focused on the wrong activities. The same thing applies to business owners who can’t grow their businesses.
As a new business owner, you are going to have lots of tasks that will demand your time. You are going to be forced to prioritize and manage your time well if you want to grow your business.
Lots of small business owners wear many hats and struggle to get to some tasks. This can leave you feeling frustrated. But, know that while it’s good to get a lot of things off your to-do list, some tasks are more important than others.
After you have been in business for a while, you will start to get an idea of your most important tasks. Your most important tasks are the ones with the highest return on investment. Those are the tasks or activities where you need to spend the bulk of your time and energy.
Low-reward tasks can be outsourced or put on the back burner until you can get to them. So, don’t feel like you have to do everything all of the time. Focus on the most important tasks and get to the others when you can.
Speaking of tasks, I made a list of some of the most important business tasks. You can grab a free copy below!
6. KEEP TRACK OF YOUR BUSINESS PERFORMANCE
Along the same lines as above, it’s very important to keep track of how your business is doing.
To grow your business, you need to know what’s working for you so you can do more of it. Keeping track of your business performance is the smart way to make changes and improve your business.
Before you start your business, make a list of some things (or metrics) you’d like to track. For instance, how much traffic you get from a particular source, where most of your leads or customers come from, or the result of a particular marketing or sales strategy.
There are lots of metrics to track in a business but focus on the ones that affect your bottom line. Some metrics are vanity metrics. The things you want to track are the things that directly or indirectly add to your revenue or profit.
Additionally, you need to know the most important numbers in your business. I am talking about things like your expenses, profit, revenue, and net profit margins.
Tracking your business performance will make it easy for you to make decisions and necessary tweaks to your business practice.
You can’t build a successful business if you don’t know your numbers or what is working for you.
Final thoughts on how to start and grow a business
Starting and growing a small business involves a lot of things. If you want a profitable business, it’s important to lay a good foundation for your business.
There are some key things you can do to ensure your startup goes smoothly, so you can focus on growing your business.
In this post, I have given you lots of important tips to make the process as smooth as possible, however, I know some of you would prefer if everything you need was packaged for you. Well, I have some good news for you.
It’s called the New Business Success Kit. It’s a new business starter pack that will help you start and grow your business without feeling overwhelmed. If you want a simple way to launch, organize, and grow your business, check it out below!